A D.C. Superior Court judge on February 1 dismissed a lawsuit filed by eight members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, or AKA, the nation’s oldest Black sorority.
The eight members alleged that the organization’s president, Barbara McKinzie, misappropriated millions of dollars of the sorority’s money. They claimed McKinzie was also improperly awarded a $375,000 stipend and used the organization’s credit card to purchase personal items for herself and friends.
However, Judge Natalia M. Combs Greene did not accept those allegations and claimed the lawsuit was based on “hyperbolic allegations.”
“This case is largely about several disgruntled AKA members disillusioned with what they see as an increasingly opaque, authoritarian and self-serving leadership in their organization,” Combs Greene wrote in her order of dismissal. “The question remains, however, whether such behavior warrants judicial intervention.”
The ruling is seen as a victory by McKinzie and her representatives. McKinzie’s four-year term as the head of the Chicago-based group expires this year.
“Throughout her tenure, Barbara McKinzie had led Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. with the utmost integrity and professionalism, and this ruling reaffirms that very fact,” Dale Cooter, McKinzie’s attorney, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
The sorority was founded at Washington, D.C.’s Howard University, and celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2008. Melody M. McDowell, a spokeswoman for AKA, told The Washington Post that the ruling was a “total vindication” for McKinzie.
But the organization still faces legal trouble. A former employee, Kenitra Shackelford-Johnson has filed a wrongful-termination lawsuit against the sorority. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Shackelford-Johnson claims she was fired after she refused to sign off on McKinzie’s expenditures, and complained about them to the Illinois attorney general.